School Sports are Overrated


Fallon Russel

Austin High freshman football plays Del Valle. Even as freshman hard tackles are taken on the sidelines.

In high school, sports are an extremely important part of the student body’s lives. However, the amount of focus that schools place on sports may not be entirely beneficial or healthy. We should place less emphasis on sports, particularly football. Instead, schools should offer more respect and focus on academic success, which is a better guarantee of future success in adult life.

While it provides good exercise, football, in particular, can be unhealthy for students. Concussions are a well-known problem in professional football, with 214 players suffering head injuries during the 2018 season according to the NFL. High school students playing football are just as prone to injury, perhaps even more so. An estimated 300,000 high school athletes get concussions each year — which is about 10% of all players. Given that only 5.8% of high school football players even make it into the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and only 0.09% make the NFL, the risk just isn’t worth the reward. Other sports can also be harmful, but football is the worst offender.

Students who are involved in school sports can often be less invested in their classes as they should be. Certain that sports will be their road to success in life, they ignore their academic responsibilities. As a result, these students will slack off, skip class, and fail to do their work properly or on time – and then wonder why their grades are bad. If they weren’t doing sports or weren’t prevented from focusing on academics, they might be more motivated to involve themselves in schoolwork.

Finally, the academic equivalent of competitive school sports — academic UIL competition — gets no respect whatsoever from school administration. Pep rallies are held for the football and basketball teams and the whole school is encouraged to celebrate when they win. But when someone wins a journalism award, debate or other UIL competition — which anyone, not just the physically fit, can join — they don’t even get a shout-out on the announcements in the morning. Few students even know that our school has an academic UIL club.

It’s true that exercise and sports can keep students healthy, but it doesn’t need to be our school’s greatest focus. Also, sports do not have to be removed, only not placed on as high a pedestal as they are. It’s a simple change that can be made at the level of a single high school such as this one. All we need to do is make sports less dominating in the students’ schedules, warn students of the risks and dangers of sports, and provide more funding, respect, and acknowledgment to those who choose to take part in academic competitions.